30 December 2006

Madrid–Barajas Airport is bombed.

2006 Madrid–Barajas Airport bombing

2006 Madrid–Barajas Airport bombing
Part of the Basque conflict
Barajas terrorist attack.jpg
Smoke billows from the parking building
LocationMadrid, Spain
Date30 December 2006
08:59 (UTC+1)
TargetMadrid–Barajas Airport
Attack type
van bombing
Deaths2
Injured52
PerpetratorETA

The 2006 Madrid–Barajas Airport bombing occurred on 30 December 2006 when a van bomb exploded in the Terminal 4 parking area at the Madrid–Barajas Airport in Spain, killing two and injuring 52. On 9 January 2007, the Basque nationalist and separatist organisation ETA claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack, one of the most powerful carried out by ETA, damaged the airport terminal and destroyed the entire parking structure. The bombing ended a nine-month ceasefire declared by the armed organisation and prompted the government to halt plans for negotiations with the organisation. Despite the attack, ETA claimed that the ceasefire was still in place and regretted the death of civilians. The organisation eventually announced the end of the ceasefire in June 2007.

Ordered and planned by then head of commandos Miguel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina alias Txeroki, the attack was carried out by the "commando Elurra", whose members were arrested in early 2008 and sentenced for the attack in May 2010. Txeroki was arrested in November 2008 and is awaiting trial for the bombing.

Background

On March 22, 2006 ETA announced a ceasefire. Following the announcement, the Spanish government led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero on one side and the armed organisation, as well as Batasuna, a Basque nationalist party banned for its ties with ETA, on the other, engaged in talks in order to put an end to the conflict between the two sides. The Basque Nationalist Party, then in charge of the Basque Government, also took part in the conversations. Most of the Basque and Spanish political parties, as well as international institutions, welcomed the announcement, except for the main opposition party People's Party, which called on the government to continue "fighting terrorism" and reject negotiations of any kind.

The three ETA members firing salvos during the 2006 Gudari Eguna

During the celebration of the 2006 Gudari Eguna in Aritxulegi, Gipuzkoa on September 23, three armed ETA members took part in the event and stated that the organisation would "keep on taking up arms until independence and socialism are achieved" in the Basque Country. The armed men also claimed that "the fight is not a thing of the past, it is the present and the future".[1] The statement was regarded by some as intended to put pressure on the talks with the Spanish government, while others saw it as a declaration of ETA's ultimate intentions, making it clear that they would not disarm until every one of their goals had been completely achieved. Despite that, Rodriguez Zapatero stated that the Spanish government would still keep its offer for talks.[2] One of the ETA members was Mattin Sarasola, who took part in the attack.[1]

On October 24, a commando unit formed by at least five members of ETA stole around 300 revolvers and 50 pistols, as well as ammunition, from an arms warehouse in Vauvert, France, and on November 4, the Basque newspaper Gara released an ETA private document in which it warned the Spanish government that the "peace process" was "in crisis". After the bombing, the ABC newspaper reported that before the attack, ETA had reminded Rodríguez Zapatero about the 2004 Madrid train bombings as a way to pressure the Government.[3] During the ceasefire, street violence around the Basque Country, known as kale borroka, did not stop.

According to Spanish police, the decision to break the truce may have come from a more violent side of ETA, opposed to any negotiations with the Spanish government, formed by members who joined ETA after participating in the kale borroka and led by Txeroki, who was in charge of all of the organisation's commandos since 2004.[4]

Madrid has been one of the most targeted cities by ETA. Prior to the attack, 36 car bombs had gone off in the city in the previous 20 years and at least 119 people had been killed in attacks carried out by the armed organisation.[5] Some of the most important attacks have been a bomb explosion inside a cafeteria on September 13, 1974, which killed 13 people, a triple bomb attack on July 29, 1979, that killed 7 people, a car bomb explosion on July 15, 1986, which killed 12 Civil Guards, as well as two car bombs that killed seven and six army members in 1993 and 1995, respectively.[6] The Madrid–Barajas airport had also been the location of ETA attacks on July 29, 1979, when three civilians were killed, and on August 27, 2002, when a car bomb exploded on the second floor of the Terminal 2 parking, causing only material damage, after a warning call from the armed organisation.[7]

Planning

In two meetings held at the Baztan valley in Navarre in the summer of 2006, Txeroki, then head of commandos, ordered fellow ETA members Mattin Sarasola, Igor Portu and Mikel San Sebastián to carry out the bombing.[8] The three members had been born in the Navarrese town of Lesaka[8] and were part of the "commando Elurra" (Basque: snow), previously known as "Goiztiarrak", formed in 2002. Until 2006, the commando had the only task of helping members of ETA cross the Spanish-France border and transporting explosives.[1] The cell was also linked with a car bomb attack against a discothèque in the town of Urdax on February 14, 2006, as well as with another attack against a discothèque in Santesteban on December 21, 2005.[9] The leader of the commando group, Joseba Aranibar alias "Basurde" and Joseba Iturbide, who was also part of the cell, did not take part in the meetings.[10] During the first meeting, Txeroki gave instructions on how to carry out the attack and told the members of the commando which secondary roads they should take to arrive to the airport and avoid being caught by security forces.[10][11] After the meeting, Sarasola took part in the September 23 event along with Joseba Iturbide and an unknown member of the organisation.[1] In October, Sarasola, Portu and San Sebastián rehearsed the route to the airport twice. The first rehearsal was made with San Sebastián's personal car and the second one, on October 21, with a Volkswagen Polo rented in Irun, Gipuzkoa. Leaving from Navarre, the commando members succeeded in parking the Volkswagen Polo in the Terminal 4 car park.[10] After the rehearsals, they met again with Txeroki,[8] who gave them the final instructions for the attack, including the day the attack would take place, as well as how to dress on the day of the bombing. Txeroki asked Sarasola to wear a wig, a cap, as well as a face mask on his nose. Sarasola would also have to carry a suitcase and a crutch, pretending to be lame on one of his legs.[10][11] He also asked Sarasola to buy a mobile phone with which Portu would warn of the bombing, and told them which places they should phone: the DYA headquarters, a Basque roadside assistance association, in Bilbao, Madrid's firemen and the emergency telephone number 112. Nonetheless, Portu would eventually also call a Basque emergency number.[10]

On December 27, Portu, Sarasola and San Sebastián stole a Renault Trafic at gunpoint in the French town of Luz Ardiden and held its owner for three days in a cabin located in the Pyrenees. During that time, he was forced to send mobile messages to his mother, stating that he was all right.[12] He was released 40 minutes after the attack. Commando leader Joseba Aranibar loaded the van with explosives, while Sarasola and San Sebastián spent the night at the cabin.[12]

On the morning of December 29, Aranibar gave the van to Sarasola and San Sebastian.[11][12] Following the route they had planned, Sarasola drove the van while San Sebastián was driving a motorbike in front of the van. Meanwhile, Portu arrived with another vehicle to a point located 50 kilometres from the airport. Portu met Sarasola and gave him the equipment he needed in order to disguise himself.[8] At 6:51 pm,[10] Sarasola parked the van in the unit D of the Terminal 4 car park and triggered the bomb. He then took a taxi to the town of San Sebastián de los Reyes, where he got rid of the disguise. From there he took another taxi and met Portu, who was driving San Sebastian's motorbike. They then met San Sebastian and they all went back to Lesaka. On the next day, Portu went to the city of San Sebastián, from where he made the warning calls.[8]

Details of the bombing

Explosion

Evacuated passengers gathering outside the terminal after the explosion

At 07:53 am, Igor Portu used a mobile phone to call the DYA headquarters to warn them that a "powerful van bomb" would explode at 09:00. Three minutes later he called the firemen of Madrid, between 07:52 and 07:59 he phoned Gara and finally the SOS/DEIAK emergency number of San Sebastián, this time from a telephone box.[13] Police immediately cordoned off the car park, with hundreds of people being evacuated from the terminal through jetways and gathered outside on the airport ramps.[14]

At 08:59 the Renault Trafic went off, destroying much of section D of the parking lot of the airport's newly built Terminal 4 and sending a massive column of smoke into the air. The terminal, designed by Antonio Lamela and Richard Rogers, had been inaugurated just a few months before, on February 5, 2006.[15] According to reports, the van was carrying 500 to 800 kilograms (1,100 to 1,800 lb) of an unknown kind of explosive, probably a mix of ammonium nitrate and hexogen, becoming the third most powerful explosive device ever used by ETA.[16] The explosion demolished almost all of the five floors of the car park and produced around 40 tones of debris, with the zone being compared by Spanish authorities to the World Trade Center ground zero,[17] as well as damaging at least 1300 vehicles parked in the terminal. The terminal building was also affected.[16]

As a result of the explosion, two Ecuadorian citizens, Carlos Alonso Palate and Diego Armando Estacio, who were taking a nap inside their cars and did not manage to evacuate died. It took five days for the rescue teams to reach the buried bodies. 52 other people were injured,[18] with Samur emergency services setting up a field hospital in the terminal in order to assist those injured, mainly from flying glass and damage to their ears due to the shock wave. Hospitals across Madrid received 11 people slightly injured in the blast, with only three of them remaining in the hospitals at the end of the day.[19] The bombing represented ETA's first deadly attack since 2003.

Victims

Carlos Alonso Palate, 35, was born in the town of Ambato, in the province of Tungurahua. He arrived in Spain in 2002 and lived in Valencia, where he worked in a plastic factory, and was in Madrid to pick up a friend's wife who had come to spend New Year's Eve in Spain.[20] He was buried in the small town of Picaihua on January 6.[21] The other victim, Diego Armando Estacio, 19, was born in Machala, El Oro. He arrived in Madrid in 2001, where he worked as a construction worker, and was at the airport to pick up some of his girlfriend's relatives.[22] He was buried in his home town on January 8.[21]

Aftermath

Excavator removing debris from the blast on January 24

After the blast, Aena immediately closed Terminal 4 and hundreds of flights were interrupted.[23] Flights at the other three terminals were not affected.[14] At 2:00pm, some flights started departing, while Aena asked passengers to only use public transport in order to go to the terminal. After several hours, regular air traffic resumed and by 7:00pm, 388 out of the 575 scheduled had already departed from the terminal.[23]

During the following days, firemen and emergency services kept on removing debris at the scene of the blast and around 25 tones of it had been removed by January 21.[16] The huge amount of debris made it difficult to rescue the bodies of the dead. The body of Carlos Alonso Palate was found inside his car on January 4, and was repatriated to Ecuador on the following day,[24] when Diego Armando Estacio's body was found, who was sent back home on January 7.[25] Both bodies departed from the Torrejón Air Base on planes arranged by the Spanish government, who also granted the Spanish nationality to descendants of the dead.[26]

Several authorities visited the bomb site during the days after the blast. On January 3, Leader of the People's Party Mariano Rajoy visited the bomb site along with President of Madrid Esperanza Aguirre and mayor of Madrid Alberto Ruiz-Gallardón. Rodriguez Zapatero visited the scene on the following day.[26]

Reaction

Minister of the Interior Alfredo Pérez Rubalcaba condemned the attack and stated that "violence is incompatible with dialogue in any democracy"[27] while Rodríguez Zapatero ordered the government to put all peace talks with ETA "on hold" and condemned the "useless and ridiculous step" that the organization had taken,[27] although he did not announce the end of the peace process.[28] Just a few hours earlier Rodríguez Zapatero had delivered his end of year message and had claimed that "in one year we will be better than today". Mariano Rajoy asked the government not to negotiate with ETA once again and said he would back the government only if it concentrated on eliminating it. Other Spanish political parties, as well as the Basque government, condemned the attack, although the latter stated that they would like the peace process to continue.[27] Spokesman for Batasuna Arnaldo Otegi refused to condemn the attack and denied that the process was damaged and considered it "just another event" of all the ones that were "blocking" the process, and accused the government of not "making any steps", referring to the situation of ETA prisoner Iñaki de Juana Chaos, who was then on a hunger strike.[29] However, Pérez Rubalcaba announced that the process had definitely been broken.[27]

On the following day of the attack, hundreds of members of the Association of Terrorism Victims staged a protest outside the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party headquarters in Madrid, shouting slogans demanding Rodriguez Zapatero's resignation. Earlier, the association president Francisco José Alcaraz asked the government to expel the Communist Party of the Basque Homelands from all regional institutions in case they did not condemn the attack. He also stated that "civil rebellion will remain unstoppable until the terrorists and all their plans have been destroyed".[26] The association held a bigger demonstration on January 14 in Madrid.

On January 9, 2007, in a statement sent to Gara, ETA claimed responsibility for the attack and insisted that the March ceasefire was still in place despite the bombing. The organisation extended its solidarity to the "collateral damage" caused by the bombing, stating that the "objective of this armed action was not to cause victims" and condemned the fact that the airport had not been totally evacuated.[30][31] ETA also accused the government of creating obstacles to a democratic process.[30] On January 6, a demonstration in San Sebastian in favour of ETA prisoners and in support of a democratic solution to the process ended up in riots.[32] ETA eventually announced the end of the ceasefire in another statement on June 5, 2007, and resumed its attacks.[33]

Memorial

Memorial held in Bilbao

On the evening of the attack, a minute of silence was held across Spanish town halls. On January 14, several senior Basque politicians including Patxi Lopez gathered in Bilbao, along with the representative of the Ecuadorian people in the Basque Country, in order to pay tribute to the dead,[34] and on January 29, hundreds of people gathered at the House of America in Madrid. Then-Ecuadorian Minister for Foreign Affairs María Fernanda Espinosa participated in the event, along with then-Spanish secretary for Ibero-America Trinidad Jiménez.[35] On the day the car park was re-inaugurated, authorities unveiled two busts in the exact park places the victim's cars had been parked.[36]

Reconstruction

The van had been placed in the second floor of the car park, and as a result of the blast a 90% of the building was demolished. The reconstruction of the car park started on January 21, while the damage caused inside the terminal, mainly broken windows as well as distorted structures, had already been repaired by the end of January.[16] Works lasted six months and the car park was inaugurated again by then-Minister of Public Works Magdalena Álvarez on September 20, 2007. Many businessmen attended the event, which also paid tribute to the dead. The reconstruction had a total cost of 24.5 million euros, and 15 million more were used to compensate the damage caused to the 2,100 cars parked there at the time of the attack, as well as to repair the terminal building.[36]

Arrest and trials

All the suspects involved in the attack were arrested during 2008. On January 7, Igor Portu and Mattin Sarasola were arrested by the Civil Guard in a road close to Arrasate, Gipuzkoa. At the time of the arrest, they both were carrying a revolver.[37] According to reports by other terrorists, they were placed in patrol cars and were beaten by the officers guarding them. While being handcuffed behind their backs, they were taken separately at an undetermined site, where they were punched and kicked, in addition to receiving death threats. A handcuffed Sarasola was thrown down a hillside before having a gun aimed at his head.[38] The Ministry of Interior denied the claims of torture and attributed the injuries to the moment the terrorists resisted arrest and attempted to escape.[38] On the following day, Pérez Rubalcaba announced that Portu and Sarasola were the perpetrators of the airport attack, after they had confessed so while being in custody.[39] On February 16, Joseba Iturbide and Mikel San Sebastian were arrested in the French town of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, Pyrénées-Atlantiques along with fellow ETA members Jose Antonio Martinez Mur and Asuncion Bengoechea.[40] Finally, Txeroki, Spain's most wanted man at that time, was arrested in Cauterets, Hautes-Pyrénées on November 17.[41]

On May 3, 2010 Portu, Sarasola and San Sebastián appeared at the Spanish National High Court in Madrid for their role in the attack. All of them refused to address the court, with Sarasola stating that he did not recognise that "fascist court" and said he was "not going to take part in it".[42] On May 21, they were found guilty of two murders and 48 murder attempts (the final sentence stated that there were 48 wounded people), and each of them was sentenced to 1,040 years of prison, although the maximum a person can serve for a terrorism conviction under the Spanish law is 40 years.[43]

Torture trial

On October 25, 2010, 15 Civil Guards went on trial in San Sebastián in relation to the torture suffered by Portu and Sarasola. On December 30, four of them were sentenced to prison: two for four years, and the other two for two years. The rest of the officers were found not guilty and were acquitted.[44] It was the first time since 2001 that Civil Guards had been sentenced with claims of torture against members of ETA.[45]

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c d "El 'comando Elurra' recogió los fusiles escondidos en el monte Aritxulegi meses después del Gudari Eguna". elcorreo.com/vizcaya (in Spanish). January 16, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  2. ^ "Zapatero pide a Batasuna que haga "sólo política" y se desmarque de la violencia". diariovasco.com (in Spanish). September 25, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  3. ^ "La banda recordó al Ejecutivo el precedente del 11-M" (in Spanish). ABC. January 12, 2007. Archived from the original on January 12, 2007.
  4. ^ "'Txeroki', el terrorista que decidió romper la tregua". cadenaser.com (in Spanish). November 17, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  5. ^ "Atentados de ETA en Madrid". elpais.com (in Spanish). February 9, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  6. ^ "Los atentados más sangrientos". elmundo.es (in Spanish). Archived from the original on December 26, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  7. ^ "Cronología del Ministerio del Interior – AGOSTO 2001". MIR (in Spanish). Archived from the original on March 13, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  8. ^ a b c d e "El fiscal pedirá 900 años de cárcel para tres autores del atentado de la T-4". elmundo.es (in Spanish). March 11, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  9. ^ "El comando "Elurra" también actuó en Urdax". diariodenavarra.es (in Spanish). January 18, 2008. Archived from the original on July 24, 2011. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  10. ^ a b c d e f "'Txeroki' ordenó y supervisó el atentado que acabó con la tregua de ETA". elperiodicodearagon.com (in Spanish). May 4, 2010. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  11. ^ a b c "Así ordenó "Txeroki" volar la T-4". abc.es (in Spanish). November 25, 2010. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  12. ^ a b c "Pedraz procesa a 'Txeroki' por ordenar el atentado de la T-4 en plena tregua". elmundo.es (in Spanish). November 24, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2010.
  13. ^ "Igor Portu fue el que avisó del atentado de la T-4 del aeropuerto de Barajas". lavanguardia.es (in Spanish). May 5, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  14. ^ a b "Madrid bomb shatters ETA cease-fire". edition.cnn.com. December 30, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  15. ^ "Zapatero inaugura la Terminal 4, que sitúa Barajas en el cuarto puesto europeo por número de vuelos". elmundo.es (in Spanish). February 4, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  16. ^ a b c d "Finalizan las tareas de desescombro en Barajas sin rastro de la furgoneta de ETA". elcorreo.com (in Spanish). January 21, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  17. ^ "El colapso que provocó la explosión en el parking, similar al de las Torres Gemelas, según los Bomberos". 20minutos.es (in Spanish). December 31, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  18. ^ "La Fiscalía eleva de 900 a 1.120 años la petición de penas para los etarras que atentaron en la T-4". lavanguardia.es (in Spanish). May 5, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  19. ^ "Tres personas siguen hospitalizadas y otras ocho han sido dadas de alta tras el atentado". elmundo.es (in Spanish). December 30, 2006. Archived from the original on December 4, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  20. ^ "Un trabajador que ahorraba para volver a Ecuador". elpais.com (in Spanish). January 3, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  21. ^ a b "Ecuador sepulta la pesadilla del terrorismo de ETA con los sepelios de Palate y Estacio". elmundo.es (in Spanish). January 7, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  22. ^ "Llega a Ecuador el avión con los restos de Diego Armando Estacio". elpais.com (in Spanish). January 7, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  23. ^ a b "La T-4 de Barajas sale del caos tras el atentado". elpais.com (in Spanish). December 30, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  24. ^ "Carlos Alonso Palate, repatriado a Ecuador en un avión del Ejército español". elmundo.es (in Spanish). January 5, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  25. ^ "El féretro de Diego Armando Estacio llega a Ecuador en un avión del Ejército español". elmundo.es (in Spanish). January 7, 2007. Archived from the original on February 2, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  26. ^ a b c "Autopsy confirms second Barajas blast victim also died of asphyxia". thinkspain.com. January 7, 2007. Archived from the original on July 23, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  27. ^ a b c d "Reacciones al atentado de ETA contra la T-4 del aeropuerto de Madrid Barajas". elmundo.es (in Spanish). December 30, 2006. Archived from the original on December 4, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  28. ^ "Spanish PM suspends Eta dialogue". news.bbc.co.uk. December 30, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  29. ^ "Batasuna dice que el 'proceso de paz no está roto' y exige más 'responsabilidad' al Gobierno". elmundo.es (in Spanish). December 30, 2006. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  30. ^ a b "ETA asume la autoría del atentado de Barajas pero asegura que el alto el fuego continúa vigente". elpais.com (in Spanish). January 9, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  31. ^ "Eta claims Madrid airport attack". news.bbc.co.uk. January 9, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  32. ^ "La Ertzaintza carga contra los simpatizantes de la izquierda 'abertzale' concentrados en Anoeta". elpais.com (in Spanish). January 6, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  33. ^ "ETA anuncia que da por finalizado el 'alto el fuego' a partir de esta medianoche". elmundo.es (in Spanish). January 5, 2007. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  34. ^ "Un homenaje a las víctimas de la T4 logra en Bilbao el apoyo de todas las fuerzas políticas". elmundo.es (in Spanish). January 14, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  35. ^ "España recuerda a ecuatorianos fallecidos en atentado de ETA". eluniverso.com (in Spanish). January 29, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  36. ^ a b "El aparcamiento de la T4 se reabre al público nueve meses después del atentado". elcorreo.com (in Spanish). September 20, 2007. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  37. ^ "La Guardia Civil detiene a dos presuntos etarras que iban armados en Arrasate". elmundo.es (in Spanish). January 7, 2008. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  38. ^ a b "15 Guardia Civil go on trial for torturing ETA terrorists in jail". thereader.es. October 25, 2010. Archived from the original on November 8, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  39. ^ "Los etarras detenidos en Mondragón son los autores del atentado de la T-4". elmundo.es (in Spanish). January 9, 2008. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  40. ^ "Spain confirms arrest of 4 ETA suspects in France". reuters.com. February 16, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  41. ^ "Txeroki, Spain's most wanted man, arrested in France". timesonline.co.uk. November 18, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  42. ^ "Los etarras acusados del atentado de la T4 no reconocen al tribunal y se niegan a declarar". rtve.es/noticias (in Spanish). May 3, 2010. Archived from the original on January 27, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  43. ^ "Condenados a 1.040 años de cárcel cada uno de los tres etarras acusados del atentado de la T4". rtve.es/noticias (in Spanish). May 21, 2010. Archived from the original on January 24, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  44. ^ "Condenados 4 de los 15 guardias acusados de torturar a los etarras de la T-4". rtve.es/noticias (in Spanish). December 30, 2010. Archived from the original on January 21, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
  45. ^ "Primera condena por torturas impuesta a guardias civiles en diez años". elmundo.es (in Spanish). December 30, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.

External links

Coordinates: 40°29′30″N 3°35′41″W / 40.49167°N 3.59472°W / 40.49167; -3.59472

15 November 2006

Al Jazeera English launches worldwide.

Al Jazeera English

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Channel 842
Numericable
(France)
Channel 64
Charter Spectrum
(New York City)
Channel 92
Rogers Cable
(Canada)
Channel 176

(Sri Lanka)
Channel 33
 [zh]
(Macau)
Channel 817
Shaw Exo TV
(Canada)
Channel 513
SkyCable
(Philippines)
Channel 151 (Digital)
TeledünyaChannel 71
ClearTV
(Nepal)
Channel 660 (HD), 659 (SD)
IPTV
ClixChannel 97
Club InternetChannel 59
ElionChannel 66
FreeChannel 85
Neuf TVChannel 47
now TV
(Hong Kong)
Channel 325
TPGChannel 23
Yes TV
(Israel)
Channel 108
Movistar TVChannel 136
Unifi TVChannel 602
MEOChannel 205
Bell Fibe TV
(Canada)
Channel 516
CHT MOD
(Taiwan)
Channel 561
Fetch TV
(Australia)
Channel 187
Optik TV
(Canada)
Channel 825
Net TV (Nepal)Channel 200 (HD)
PTCL Smart TV
(Pakistan)
Channel 105
 [zh]
(Hong Kong)
Channel 704
PEO TV
(Sri Lanka)
Channel 26
A1 TV (Austria)Channel 61 (SD)
Streaming media
Aljazeera.comWatch live
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Ziggo GO (Netherlands)ZiggoGO.tv (Europe only)

Al Jazeera English (AJE) is a Qatari pay television news channel owned by the Al Jazeera Media Network, headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It is the first English-language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East.[1] Instead of being run centrally, news management rotates between broadcasting centres in Doha and London.

History

The channel was launched on 15 November 2006 at 12:00 GMT. It had aimed to begin broadcasting in June 2006 but had to postpone its launch because its HDTV technology was not ready.[2][3] The channel was due to be called Al Jazeera International, but the name was changed nine months before the launch because "one of the Qatar-based channel's backers decided that the broadcaster already had an international scope with its original Arabic outlet".[4]

The channel had expected to reach around 40 million households, but it far exceeded that launch target, reaching 80 million homes.[5] As of 2009, Al Jazeera's English-language service can be viewed in every major European market and is available to 130 million homes in over 100 countries via cable and satellite, according to Molly Conroy, a spokeswoman for the network in Washington.[6]

The channel is noted for its poor penetration in the American market, where it was carried by only one satellite service and a small number of cable networks.[7] Al Jazeera English later began a campaign to enter the North American market, including a dedicated website.[8] It became available to some cable subscribers in New York in August 2011, having previously been available as an option for some viewers in Washington, D.C., Ohio and Los Angeles.[9] The channel primarily reaches the United States via its live online streaming. It is readily available on most major Canadian television providers including Rogers and Bell TV after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved the channel for distribution in Canada on 26 November 2009.[10][11]

Al Jazeera English and Iran's state-run Press TV were the only international English-language television broadcasters with journalists reporting from inside both Gaza and Israel during the 2008–2009 Israel-Gaza conflict. Foreign press access to Gaza has been limited via either Egypt or Israel. However, Al Jazeera's reporters Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros were already inside Gaza when the conflict began and the network's coverage was often compared to CNN's initial coverage from inside Baghdad in the early days of the 1991 Gulf War.[12][13][14]

The channel may also be viewed online. It recommends online viewing at its own website[15] or at its channel on YouTube.[16] Al Jazeera English HD launched in the United Kingdom on Freeview on 26 November 2013, and began streaming in HD on YouTube in 2015.

On 1 January 2020, Al Jazeera English debuted a new major graphics package for the first time since the channel launched and a remodeled main Doha studio, the last main studio of the channel's three in Doha, London and Washington D.C. to receive an upgrade since the channel's launch in 2006.

Al Jazeera America / United States

On 3 January 2013, Al Jazeera Media Network announced that it had purchased Current TV in the United States and would be launching an American news channel. 60% of the channel's programming would be produced in America while 40% would be from Al Jazeera English.[17][18][19][20] That was later changed at the request of pay-television providers to almost 100% American programing.[21] Regardless Al Jazeera America maintained a close working relationship with Al Jazeera English. The channel aired Newshour in the morning and midday hours and cut to live Al Jazeera English coverage of large breaking international news stories outside of that. Al Jazeera English programmes Witness, Earthrise, Listening Post, Talk To Al Jazeera Al Jazeera Correspondent and 101 East along with Al Jazeera Investigates regularly aired on Al Jazeera America.

On 13 January 2016, Al Jazeera America announced that the network would be terminated on 12 April 2016, citing the "economic landscape".[22]

Al Jazeera UK / Europe

In 2014, Al Jazeera moved its UK London operations including its newsroom, studios and shows from Knightsbridge to its new space on floor 16 of The Shard.[23] The last day of broadcasting from the Knightsbridge studios was September, 12th 2014.[24] The space was officially opened on 3 November 2014, with the first Newshour broadcast on 10 October 2014.[25] The new facility is capable of running an entire channel, independently of the Doha hub.

In 2013 Al Jazeera Media Network began planning a new channel called Al Jazeera UK. If launched, the British channel would broadcast for five hours during prime time as cut-in UK content aired on Al Jazeera English.[26] It would in effect function much like RT UK and RT America does in the United States.

Programmes

In addition to those listed below, Al Jazeera English runs various programmes that are either entirely non-recurrent or consist of just a limited number of parts (miniseries format known as special series). All programmes, including former shows are shown in their entirety on Al Jazeera's website and YouTube. Current programmes on the channel are:[27][28]

  • 101 East — the weekly documentary series for issues of particular importance in Asia. Presenters or hosts have included Teymoor Nabili and Fauziah Ibrahim
  • Al Jazeera Investigates — documentaries arising from the work of the Al Jazeera Investigative Unit.
  • Counting the Cost (TV programme)|Counting the Cost — the weekly look at business and finance.[29] Hosted by Kamahl Santamaria.
  • Empire — a monthly programme exploring global powers and their policies. A discussion with host Marwan Bishara and his guests[30]
  • Fault Lines — the documentary series focused on the forgotten and the unreported aspects of life in the United States. Presented by: Josh Rushing, Sebastian Walker, Wab Kinew and formerly by Zeina Awad.
  • Head To Head – A debate programme hosted by Mehdi Hasan.
  • Inside Story — the daily investigation and analysis of a topical issue, with the aid of three guests from within and outside of the country in question. Jane Dutton and Shiulie Ghosh are regular hosts, but most of the Doha-based news-presenters have also taken the chair, including: Dareen Abughaida, Stephen Cole, Adrian Finighan, David Foster, Divya Gopalan, Veronica Pedrosa, Kamahl Santamaria, Folly Bah Thibault.
  • Listening Post — analysis of how the other news organizations are covering the stories of the week, plus examination of viewer-submitted news. Hosted from London by Richard Gizbert.
  • News:
    • World news live from Al Jazeera's Doha broadcast centre
    • World news live from Al Jazeera's London broadcast centre
    • Newshour — an hour of world news and sport hosted from both of Al Jazeera's broadcast centres.
    • Newsgrid − an interactive news and live post. Launched on 14 November 2016 as part Of Al Jazeera English's 10 Year Anniversary Of broadcast. Also Airs On Facebook Live, aljazeera.com and the channel's YouTube Channel.
  • People & Power — a biweekly programme, originally hosted by Dr. Shereen El Feki.
  • TechKnow — weekly show showcasing bright spots and innovations in the world of science and technology in the United States and how they are changing lives. Segments are recorded in the field by a group of young, tech-savvy contributors with diverse backgrounds in science and technology.
  • - a weekly discussion show moderated by Steven Clemons Steve Clemons at the Al Jazeera’s studios in Washington, DC. With different guests each week, the show delves into "the big issues" facing American society.[31]
  • The Stream — a discussion programme focused on social media, daily from Monday to Thursday. Hosted by Femi Oke and Malika Bilal, usually with one guest in the studio and a couple on Skype. An issue, itself often viewer-generated, is discussed by the team and viewers can contribute with comments on Twitter or Facebook, with some occasionally invited to join in on Skype.
  • Talk to Al Jazeera — extended studio interviews with people of influence from around the world:
  • Viewfinder – Fresh perspectives through the lens of local filmmakers from around the globe.
  • Witness — the daily documentary-slot for films by the best of the world's independent film-makers. The strand aims to shine a light on the events and people long-forgotten by the global media and on those that never merited a mention in the first place.
  • UpFront – hosted by Mehdi Hasan, discussion, debate and analysis programme from Washington, D.C.

Former programmes

These include programmes that have not had a new episode announced since 2014.

  • 48 — weekly show hosted by Teymoor Nabili; Asian politics, business and current affairs
  • Everywoman — hosted by Shiulie Ghosh
  • Inside Iraq — coverage of the Iraq War, hosted by Jasim Al-Azzawi
  • Riz Khan — daily (Mon-Thu) viewer participation show, hosted by Riz Khan. Similar to CNN's Larry King Live
    • Riz Khan One on One — Riz Khan sits down with a single guest for an extended interview
  • Africa Investigates — African journalists risk their lives in order to reveal the truth about corruption and abuse across the continent
  • Sportsworld — a daily sports programme hosted on rotation by members of Al Jazeera's sports team
  • The Café — a discussion programme, hosted by Mehdi Hasan.
  • Inside Story America — version of Inside Story focused on the United States.
  • The Fabulous Picture Show — hosted by Amanda Palmer, offers some interviews and reports on movies, actors and directors.
  • The Frost Interview (previously Frost Over The World) — this was hosted by David Frost. Frost died in 2013, and show still aired posthumously with the family's consent.[citation needed]

International bureaux

In addition to its two main broadcast centres, Al Jazeera English itself has 21 bureaux around the world that gather and produce news. It also shares resources with its Arabic-language sister channel's 42 bureaux, Al Jazeera Balkan's bureaux and Al Jazeera Turk's bureaux for 70 bureaux.[32] This is a significant difference from the present trend:

"The mainstream American networks have cut their bureaux to the bone.... They're basically only in London now. Even CNN has pulled back. I remember in the '80s when I covered these events there would be a truckload of American journalists and crews and editors and now Al Jazeera outnumbers them all.... That's where, in the absence of alternatives, Al Jazeera English can fill a vacuum, simply because we're going in the opposite direction."

Tony Burman, Former Managing Director, AJE (quoted in Adbusters)[33]

Also Al Jazeera presenters can alternate between broadcast centres. Al Jazeera also shares English-speaking correspondents with Al Jazeera Arabic, Al Jazeera Turk and Al Jazeera Balkans and vice versa.

Middle East and the Maghreb

Doha broadcast studio in use, November 2011

Broadcast Centre: Doha: Al Jazeera English Headquarters
Anchors: Dareen Abughaida, Richelle Carey, Jane Dutton, Adrian Finighan, Martine Dennis, Darren Jordon, Laura Kyle, Raheela Mahomed, Rob Matheson, Sohail Rahman, Kamahl Santamaria, Folly Bah Thibault
Sports Desk: Andy Richardson

Weather Team: Richard Angwin, Everton Fox, Steff Gaulter

Correspondents & Reporters: Stan Grant (Principal Presenter);[34] Hoda Abdel-Hamid, Zeina Khodr (Lebanon), Imran Khan (Palestine), Jamal Elshayyal, Clayton Swisher

Countries and Bureaux:

Sub-Saharan Africa

Correspondents:
West Africa: Nicolas Haque (Senegal); Ahmed Idris & Yvonne Ndege (Nigeria);
East Africa: Catherine (Wambua-)Soi;
Southern Africa: Haru Mutasa; Tanya Paige;

Countries and Bureaux:

Europe

The Shard, Home to Al Jazeera English's London hub

Broadcast Centre: London: The Shard
Anchors: Felicity Barr, Julie MacDonald, Maryam Nemazee, Barbara Serra, Lauren Taylor
Programme Host: Richard Gizbert

Correspondents & Reporters: Neave Barker, Natacha Butler (Paris), Paul Brennan, Rory Challands (Moscow), David Chater, Dominic Kane (Berlin), Robin Forestier-Walker (former CIS), Sonia Gallego, Emma Hayward, Laurence Lee (UK), Barnaby Phillips, John Psaropoulos (Greece), Jacky Rowland

Countries and Bureaux:

The Americas

Broadcast Centre: Washington, D.C.: 1200 New Hampshire Avenue, NW[35]
Programme Hosts: Femi Oke & Malika Bilal; Mehdi Hasan; and Josh Rushing, Sebastian Walker & Wab Kinew

Correspondents & Reporters:
North America: James Bays, Gabriel Elizondo, Alan Fisher, Kimberly Halkett, Daniel Lak, Shihab Rattansi, Rob Reynolds, Kristen Saloomey, Casey Kauffman
, South America: Lucia Newman

Countries and Bureaux

Asia-Pacific

Correspondents & Reporters: (Philippines), Adrian Brown (China), Steve Chao, Harry Fawcett (Korea), Rob McBride (Korea & Japan), Jennifer Glasse (Afghanistan), Divya Gopalan (Hong Kong), Wayne Hay, Kamal Hyder (Pakistan), Florence Looi, Andrew Thomas (Australia), Step Vaessen (Indonesia), Shamim Chowdhury

Countries and Bureaux:

Staff

Management

Managing Director
  • 2004-2008 Nigel Parsons
  • 2008-2010: Tony Burman
  • 2010-2015: Al Anstey
Crystal128-tv.svg This film, television or video-related list is incomplete; you can help by with reliably sourced additions.

On-air staff

Al Jazeera English uses a combination of full-time 'staffers' and local freelancers. So long as the journalists are appearing – or are providing credited commentaries – regularly on-air, no distinction has been made as to their contractual arrangements. However, those who have received a recent on-air profile and whose names therefore appear in bold, may well be assumed to be on the staff.

Current

On-air staff currently working for the station (previous employer in brackets) include:[36]

A
B
C
D
E
  • Jamal Elshayyal – correspondent: Doha, & host
  • Farrah Esmail – sports presenter: Doha
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
R
S
T
V
W
Also:
Strands:
And:
Al Jazeera Media Network correspondents also appearing on AJ.E:

Key

AJ.IU – Al Jazeera Investigative Unit

Former presenters and correspondents

Those who have retired, died, left, or resigned from Al Jazeera Media Network completely.

Recruitment

Al Jazeera English Newsroom

The late veteran British broadcaster David Frost joined Al Jazeera English in 2005[37] to host his show Frost Over the World.

Former BBC and CNN anchor Riz Khan, who previously had been the host of the CNN talk show Q&A, also joined. He hosts his shows Riz Khan and Riz Khan's One on One.

Former U.S. Marine Josh Rushing joined Al Jazeera in September 2005.[38] He had been the press officer for the United States Central Command during the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, and in that role had been featured in the documentary Control Room. When subsequently joining Al Jazeera, Rushing commented that "In a time when American media has become so nationalized, I'm excited about joining an organization that truly wants to be a source of global information...."[39] Rushing worked from the Washington DC broadcasting centre until the formation of Al Jazeera America, he now works from AJAM's San Francisco hub.

Former CNN and BBC news anchorwoman and award-winning journalist Veronica Pedrosa also joined the team,[40] along with CNN producer James Wright, and Kieran Baker, a former editor and producer for CNN, who had been Acting General Manager, Communications and Public Participation for ICANN. On 2 December 2005, Stephen Cole, a senior anchor on BBC World and Click Online presenter, announced he was joining Al Jazeera International.[41]

The network announced on 12 January 2006 that former Nightline correspondent Dave Marash would be the co-anchor from their Washington studio. Marash described his new position as "the most interesting job on Earth".[42] On 6 February 2006, it was announced that the former BBC reporter Rageh Omaar would host the weeknight documentary series, Witness.[43]

The managing director for Al Jazeera English was previously Tony Burman, who replaced Nigel Parsons in May 2008.[44] The current Managing Director is Al Anstey.

In mid 2014 Al Jazeera English froze employment of both permanent and freelance staff for its Qatar network and cut freelance pay rates by 30-40% without warning, while at the same time Al Jazeera lodged a $150 million claim for compensation against Egypt, arguing that by arresting and attacking Al Jazeera journalists, seizing the broadcaster's property and jamming its signal, the Egyptian government has violated its rights as a foreign investor in the country and put the $90 million it has invested in Egypt since 2001 at risk.

Al Jazeera Investigative Unit

Formed in 2010, in its own words: the role of Al Jazeera Investigations is not to report the news, but to make the news.

The Unit, is based at the Network headquarters in Doha, but also has representation in London and Washington, DC. The unit is an Al Jazeera Media Network asset and its reports appear equally on the other channels, tailored appropriately for the relevant language and audience. The documentaries are presented as specials under their own strand: Al Jazeera Investigates.

The Unit's investigations have included the documentary What Killed Arafat? This film won a CINE Golden Eagle Award and was nominated for a BAFTA. In 2013, Al Jazeera released a follow-up named "Killing Arafat" which revealed findings of scientific analysis of the exhumed remains of the Palestinian leader that discovered traces of polonium in his bones. The Arafat findings led news agendas globally.

Other major investigations have included:

How to Sell a Massacre, in which concealed cameras record an Australian political party promising to soften anti-gun laws while seeking millions in political funding from America’s gun lobby.

Generation Hate, which exposes secret links between one of France’s largest political parties and a movement calling for the expulsion of Muslims from Europe.

Football's Wall of Silence, which investigates the deadly scandal of long-term sexual abuse of young players in British football.

Broken Dreams: The Boeing 787, which revealed Boeing's "Dreamliner" workers feared to fly the plane they build, citing quality concerns and alleging drug use on the job.

The current Manager of Investigative Journalism for the Al Jazeera Media Network is Phil Rees. Before that, it was Clayton Swisher. Other leading figures include: Peter Charley, Will Thorne, Deborah Davies, Will Jordan, Simon Boazman, David Harrison, Kevin Hirten and Jason Gwynne.

Availability

The channel is available in many countries,[45] mostly via satellite, sometimes via cable. The channel is also available online.[46] Al Jazeera English provides a free HD stream on its website for unlimited viewing.[15] It is available free worldwide. They also provide a free stream on their YouTube page.[16] Previously, before Al Jazeera provided an official stream, a low quality RealVideo stream was available for viewing. Al Jazeera news segments are frequently included on the American public television program Worldfocus. Al Jazeera can also be streamed on any iOS or Android device with an internet connection using a free application.[47]

Along with a free unlimited high-quality stream on the official Al Jazeera English website, Online subscriptions allowing unlimited viewing may be purchased from Jump TV,[48] RealPlayer,[49] and VDC.[50] Al Jazeera English is also available on YouTube. Headlines from Al Jazeera English are available on Twitter.[51]

Al Jazeera English's website also contains news reports and full episodes of their programs that can be viewed for free on their website. The videos are hosted by YouTube, where viewers can also go to find the videos.[52][53]

Europe

Al Jazeera English is available in the UK and Ireland on Freeview channel 108 (HD), Sky channel 514, Freesat channel 203 and Virgin Media channel 622.

The channel initially began test streaming Al Jazeera English (then called "Al Jazeera International") in March 2006 on Hot Bird, Astra 1E, Hispasat, AsiaSat3S, Eutelsat 28A and Panamsat PAS 10. Telenors Thor, Türksat and Eutelsat 25A were added to the satellites carrying it. Eutelsat 28A carried the test stream on frequency 11.681 under the name "AJI".

Oceania

In New Zealand, Al Jareera English is available 24 hours a day on the Kordia operated free-to-air DVB-T terrestrial network since October 2013. Prior to the December 2012 analog switchoff Triangle TV re-broadcast various Al Jazeera programmes in Auckland on its free-to-air UHF channel. TV One was going to replace BBC World with this service during their off-air hours of 01:30 to 06:00 from 1 April 2013, however opted to run infomercials instead.

Asia

In April 2010, Al Jazeera English was taken off air in Singtel TV Singapore with unspecified reasons, according to the official Al Jazeera English website.

On 7 December 2010, Al Jazeera said its English language service has got a downlink license to broadcast in India. Satellite and cable companies would therefore be allowed to broadcast Al Jazeera in the country.[54] The channel launched on Dish TV in November 2011,[55] and is considering a Hindi-language channel.[56]

Americas

On 26 November 2009, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved "a request to add Al Jazeera English (AJE) to the lists of eligible satellite services for distribution on a digital basis and amends the lists of eligible satellite services accordingly".[10][11] Al Jazeera English became available on Rogers Cable, Videotron and Bell TV on 4 May 2010.[57]

Al Jazeera English's coverage of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 led to calls for the channel to be aired in the U.S.

Al Jazeera English is available via satellite across all of North America free to air via Globecast on Galaxy 19 on the Ku band in DVB format. As of 2011, only a small number of Americans were able to watch the channel on their televisions.[58] Among the markets where it was available were Bristol County, Rhode Island, Toledo and Sandusky, Ohio, Burlington, Vermont, Houston, Texas, and Washington, DC.[59] Industry giant Comcast originally planned to carry Al Jazeera English in 2007, but reversed its decision shortly before the channel's launch, citing "the already-saturated television market".[60] The two major American satellite providers, DirecTV and Dish Network, had similar plans but also changed their minds, with speculation that the decision may have been influenced by allegations by the Bush administration of "anti-American bias" in the channel.[61]

With Al Jazeera's coverage of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, the channel drew acclaim and received renewed attention. The New York Times reported on 1 February 2011 that 1.6 million U.S. viewers had tuned in via Internet stream, and stated that new discussions were underway with carriers.[62] The following month, it was announced that Al Jazeera entered carriage negotiations with Comcast and Time Warner Cable.[63] Salon.com described the channel's English-language coverage as "mandatory viewing for anyone interested in the world-changing events currently happening in Egypt",[64] while Huffington Post contributor Jeff Jarvis claimed it was "un-American" for operators to not carry the network.[65] When Al Jazeera covered the Libyan Civil War, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted an increasing American audience for the network, saying that "viewership of Al Jazeera is going up in the United States because it's real news. You may not agree with it, but you feel like you're getting real news around the clock instead of a million commercials and—you know—arguments between talking heads and the kind of stuff that we do on our news which—you know—is not particularly informative to us, let alone foreigners."[66]

On 1 February 2011, Internet appliance Roku posted on its Facebook page that the English-language Al Jazeera Live would be streaming on Roku devices through a private channel called Newscaster and also through the BBC channel. It permitted the announcement following unrest in Egypt so American viewers can watch the latest events going on in the Middle East. A Roku user must add the private channel Newscaster from the Roku website.[67]

On 1 August 2011, Al Jazeera English began airing 23 hours a day in New York City as part of a sublet agreement with cable channel RISE, a former Spanish-language network, which is carried on WRNN-TV's DT2 subchannel (the other hours were used to meet FCC E/I and local programming guidelines). The network aired on Time Warner Cable on channel 92 and on Verizon FiOS on channel 481.[68]

On 2 January 2013, Al Jazeera announced that it had acquired the U.S.-based cable TV channel Current TV for a reported $500 million. With this acquisition, Al Jazeera launched a new channel, called Al Jazeera America, with a heavy dose of U.S. domestic news along with Al Jazeera English programming and news, to an estimated 40 million U.S. households—putting it in direct competition with CNN, MSNBC and Fox News Channel.

Due to contracts with U.S. cable and satellite carriers for Al Jazeera America the official Al Jazeera English live stream was geo-blocked in the United States on 18 August 2013. With the launch of Al Jazeera America, Al Jazeera English was excluded from all US services carrying or providing the channel, including YouTube, with Al Jazeera America material replacing all Al Jazeera English video content and live streams. Most Al Jazeera English video content was no longer officially available in the United States.

In April, 2014 the Al Jazeera English show Empire wasn't geo-blocked in the United States. Shortly after the programs Indian Hospital (AJE show)|Indian Hospital, Viewfinder (AJE show)|Viewfinder, Lifelines (AJE show)|Lifelines and Head to Head were available also. These programs were the only AJE shows officially non-geoblocked for American viewing during the time that Al Jazeera America was in existence.

With the closure of Al Jazeera America in April, 2016 it was expected that the official live stream of Al Jazeera English and access to its programmes would eventually be restored to the United States.[69][70] The online live stream of Al Jazeera English was made available to viewers in the United States once again in September 2016.

Controversies

Al Jazeera English journalists Egyptian detainment

In December 2013, three Al Jazeera English journalists, Peter Greste, Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, were arrested in their Cairo Marriott hotel rooms. They were detained on charges of delivering "false news" and "aiding a terrorist organization" in Egypt following the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état. Al Jazeera was one of several websites to which the Egyptian government blocked access after accusing the network of ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, which was removed from power during the 2013 coup. Egypt has been accused of limiting freedom of expression in an attempt to suppress opposition to president al-Sisi.[71]

The crew has had court trials that have been adjourned over 10 times where questionable evidence including video from other news organizations claimed to be from Al Jazeera English, inaudible audio recordings, pictures from a family vacation, a music video and video of sheep had been presented as evidence.[72] The trial has been called out by free press groups and rights groups as a sham. The former Cairo Bureau chief from Al Jazeera English now works for sister channel AJ+ after the shutdown of the bureau. During the detainment of the journalists Al Jazeera along with the BBC and other major news organizations launched the Twitter and social media campaign #FreeAJStaff. The campaign included moments of silence while holding the hashtag as well as protesting at Egyptian embassies in various countries among other things. Calls from the United Nations, European Union and the United States for the journalists to be released were ignored.

On 23 June 2014, the three journalists were found guilty by an Egyptian court. Greste and Fahmy were sentenced to 7 years in prison while Mohamed was sentenced to 10 years. The ruling was denounced by fellow journalists, including some at BBC, CNN, ABC Australia and most other major news outlets along with world leaders from Australia, Canada, The United States, United Nations, Switzerland and the United Kingdom primarily because they were found guilty based on no actual evidence in a case that has been deemed politically motivated and also because the ruling was seen as an attack on press freedom. The response was especially negative on the part of United States Secretary of State John Kerry who a day earlier was in Egypt and was made a promise of press freedom by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The ruling has resulted in many negative stories in print, online and on television by various news outlets around the world calling the Egyptian justice system a kangaroo court and calling the Egyptian government authoritarian.[73][74]

There were various calls for amnesty, clemancy and pardons by various governments and news agencies all of which were declined by the Egyptian government who claimed that their justice system was independent and to respect the courts decision and stay out of Egyptian affairs.[75] There were also calls for the United States to end or hold funding for the Egyptian military in response to the case. Peter Greste was released from prison and deported back to Australia on 1 February 2015.[76]

On 29 August 2015, Fahmy, Greste and Mohamed were sentenced to 3 years in prison in a decision heavily criticized internationally.[77] The Government of Canada worked to have Fahmy pardoned and deported.[78] On 23 September 2015, Fahmy and Mohamed were pardoned by Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi along with 100 other people and released from prison.[79]

Expulsion from China

Al Jazeera English's longtime China correspondent Melissa Chan was expelled from the country in 2012.[80] The Chinese government did not provide any public reasons but was known to have been unhappy over a documentary the channel had aired on China's prison system.[81][82][83] On 8 May 2012, reporters from the Beijing press corps asked about the expulsion at the Chinese Foreign Ministry's daily press briefing. Officials did not provide an explanation, and censored most of the questions when they published their official transcript.[84] Chan later worked at Al Jazeera America.[85]

Criticism

As with Al Jazeera's Arabic counterpart, the network has received criticism from having bias from several sides.

Allegations of Anti-American bias

Al Jazeera English has frequently been criticized for having an anti-American bias, although some commentators[who?] have asserted that this has been lessened over time.

Emmy award-winning journalist Dave Marash, who served as a veteran correspondent for ABC's Nightline, resigned from his position as Washington anchor for Al Jazeera English in 2008. Marash cited "reflexive adversarial editorial stance" against Americans and "anti-American bias".[86][87]

It is often unclear whether recent discussions of anti-American bias at Al Jazeera are referring also to Al Jazeera English or only to Al Jazeera's Arabic-language channel. There are significant differences in tone between the English and Arabic-language channels. (According to bilingual Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, "The English channel uses more neutral terminology; the Arab channel is much harsher.")[88] An example of this is a 2011 claim by Bill O'Reilly that Al Jazeera is "anti-Semitic" and "anti-American" and a subsequent defense of Al Jazeera against these claims made by former Al Jazeera English anchor Dave Marash on the O'Reilly Factor.[88][89] Another example concerns statements by former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, who in April 2004 denounced Al-Jazeera's Arabic-language coverage of the Iraq War as "vicious, inaccurate and inexcusable", but took a more conciliatory tone in a 2011 interview for Frost Over The World, Al Jazeera English's news and public affairs program hosted by David Frost, praising the network as "an important means of communication in the world".[90] The government of which Rumsfeld was part had deliberately targeted Al Jazeera journalists in Iraq and Afghanistan, and discussed bombing its headquarters in Doha.[91]

On 12 October 2008, Al Jazeera English broadcast interviews with people attending a Sarah Palin United States presidential election rally in St. Clairsville, Ohio, with interviewees making comments about Barack Obama such as "he regards white people as trash" and "I'm afraid if he wins, the blacks will take over". The report received over two million views on YouTube.[92] Following this, The Washington Post ran an op-ed,[93] claiming the news channel was deliberately encouraging "anti-American sentiment overseas",[93] which was criticized by Al Jazeera as "a gratuitous and uninformed shot at Al Jazeera's motives", as the report was just one of "hundreds of hours of diverse coverage".[94] Criticism of an Anti-American bias has been dwindling as their coverage of the Arab Spring received wide acclaim and calls for the network to be added to U.S. television.[95]

Subsequent endeavours have been seen as tests by Al Jazeera to see whether it can get rid of the hostility Americans feel toward it. One example was a day's worth of special coverage marking the 10th anniversary of the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001.[96] Al Jazeera has also launched The Stream, a show based in Washington D.C. that discusses social media, which targets an American audience.[97][98] On 2 January 2013, Al Jazeera purchased the American channel Current TV and rebranded as Al Jazeera America in August 2013.[19]

Awards

As of May 2017, Al Jazeera English has won more than 150 prizes, medals and awards.[99]

See also

Competitors

Further reading

  • Abdul-Mageed, MM, (2008) TripleC: Cognition, Communication, Co-operation, 6(2), 59–76 Online News Sites and Journalism 2.0: Reader Comments on Al Jazeera Arabic Muhammad Abdul-Mageed, 10 April 2009
  • Abdul-Mageed, MM, and Herring, SC, (2008) In: F. Sudweeks, H. Hrachovec, and C. Ess (Eds.), Proceedings of Cultural Attitudes Towards Technology and Communication 2008 (CATaC'08), Nîmes, France, 24–27 June Arabic and English News Coverage on Al Jazeera.NET Muhammad Abdul-Mageed, 10 March 2008
  • Philip Seib (ed.): Al Jazeera English. Global News in a Changing World. Palgrave Macmillan, April 2012, ISBN 9780230340206
  • Josh Rushing: Mission Al-Jazeera: Build a Bridge, Seek the Truth, Change the World. Palgrave Macmillan, 2007
  • Tine Ustad Figenschou: Al Jazeera and the Global Media Landscape: The South is Talking Back. Routledge, 2013

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External links

18 December 2006

United Arab Emirates holds its first-ever elections.

The first elections ever to be held in the United Arab Emirates took place on 16 December, 18 December and 20 December 2006. Half of the Federal National Council, which has forty members, were elected.

Abu Dhabi and Fujairah voted on 16 December; Dubai and Ras al-Khaimah on 18 December; Sharjah, Ajm?n and Umm al-Quwain on 20 December. Only 6,689 of the more than 300,000 citizens over 18 years were allowed to vote, 1,163 of them women; all of these voters were chosen by the rulers of the seven emirates. One of the four seats in Abu Dhabi went to a woman, Amal Abdullah al-Kubaissi.

Among the twenty members chosen by the Electoral College, one woman was elected. Eight women were appointed by the rulers of the seven emirates and, with the exception of Umm al-Qaiwain, at least one woman was appointed by each emirate. Women therefore constituted 22.5% of the Council’s membership, a significant increase.
Three among those appointed were from Dubai.

The government has expressed that future elections will be more participatory, including that the powers of the Federal National Council will be expanded and that the right to vote will be granted to all citizens

15 November 2006

The TV channel, Al Jazeera English launches worldwide.

Al Jazeera English is a Qatari pay television news channel owned and operated by Al Jazeera Media Network, headquartered in Doha, Qatar. It is the first English-language news channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. Instead of being run centrally, news management rotates between broadcasting centers in Doha and London.

The channel was launched on 15 November 2006 at 12:00 GMT. It had aimed to begin broadcasting in June 2006 but had to postpone its launch because its HDTV technology was not ready. The channel was due to be called Al Jazeera International, but the name was changed nine months before the launch because “one of the Qatar-based channel’s backers decided that the broadcaster already had an international scope with its original Arabic outlet”.

The channel had expected to reach around 40 million households, but it far exceeded that launch target, reaching 80 million homes. As of 2009, Al Jazeera’s English-language service can be viewed in every major European market and is available to 130 million homes in over 100 countries via cable and satellite, according to Molly Conroy, a spokeswoman for the network in Washington.

The channel is noted for its poor penetration in the American market, where it was carried by only one satellite service and a small number of cable networks. Al Jazeera English later began a campaign to enter the North American market, including a dedicated website. It became available to some cable subscribers in New York in August 2011, having previously been available as an option for some viewers in Washington, D.C., Ohio and Los Angeles. The channel primarily reaches the United States via its live online streaming. It is readily available on most major Canadian television providers including Rogers and Bell TV after the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission approved the channel for distribution in Canada on 26 November 2009.

Al Jazeera English and Iran’s state-run Press TV were the only international English-language television broadcasters with journalists reporting from inside both Gaza and Israel during the 2008–2009 Israel-Gaza conflict. Foreign press access to Gaza has been limited via either Egypt or Israel. However, Al Jazeera’s reporters Ayman Mohyeldin and Sherine Tadros were already inside Gaza when the conflict began and the network’s coverage was often compared to CNN’s initial coverage from inside Baghdad in the early days of the 1991 Gulf War.

The channel may also be viewed online. It recommends online viewing at its own website or at its channel on YouTube. Al Jazeera English HD launched in the United Kingdom on Freeview on 26 November 2013, and began streaming in HD on YouTube in 2015.

23 May 2006

The Alaskan volcano, Mount Cleveland erupts.

Eruptions from Mount Cleveland are generally vulcanian and strombolian in nature, characterized by short explosive ash clouds sometimes accompanied by a’a flows, lava fountains, pyroclastic flows, ash and steam emissions, lava dome growth, and the ejection of breadcrust bombs. Hot springs were reportedly found on the volcano in the 1800s, and persistent fumarolic activity was observed in the 1980s and 1990s. Mount Cleveland is a site of persistent steam emissions and thermal anomalies that represent constant background activity. During 2011, a summit lava dome formed, by continuous intrusion of magma at the summit. Late in 2011, nearly 6 explosions demolished the dome. In June 2012, another small dome was observed.

Little is known about Cleveland’s early eruptive history as its remoteness makes it a difficult area to investigate, and discrepancies in names have caused confusion between events there and those on nearby Carlisle. Even today, not all possible events are confirmed as eruptions by the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and many are listed as “possible.” In observed history, Mount Cleveland may have first erupted in 1744; the first confirmed eruption occurred in 1828. The volcano erupted again in 1836, 1893, 1897, 1929, 1932, and 1938.

The first notable eruption from Mount Cleveland was a Volcanic Explosivity Index 3 Vulcanian eruption that occurred between June 10 and June 13, 1944. Lava flows extended 5 km from the summit, and an ash plume 6,000 m high was produced. Large boulders were reportedly ejected and carried out to sea by eruptive force. The eruption had the distinction of being the only confirmed direct volcanic fatality in Alaska; a small detachment from the Eleventh Air Force was stationed on the volcano at the time, and one Sergeant Purchase left his post early in the eruption to take a walk and never returned, probably killed by mudslides. At approximately 10:20, a boat sent to search for Purchase witnessed the end of the eruption. The island was abandoned for the remainder of the war.

Mount Cleveland erupted more recently in 1951, 1953, 1954, 1975, 1984 through 1987, 1989, 1994, and 1997. The volcano has received more focused attention in recent times due to its increased activity: it erupted in 2001, 2005, three times in 2006, 2007, three times in 2009, and twice in 2010. Of these, the most significant eruption was the 2001 eruption, which produced a 12 km high ash plume. This plume dispersed 120 to 150 km 75 to 93 mi across Alaska, an unusual distance that allowed detailed satellite observations to be made. Nikolski and the surrounding region was the site of several hours of ashfall, represented in satellite imagery as areas of discolored snow.This eruption significantly disrupted air traffic in the area.

On June 19, 2012, a pilot reported an ash-producing explosion on Mount Cleveland. Due to continuing seismic activity, the volcano was placed on the USGS Volcano Watch List in the orange or “watch” category the following day. AVO continues to keep Cleveland on the watch because of a persistent anomaly at the summit. AVO suspects it could be dome growth. Other minor ash producing explosions occurred on June 26, July 12, and August 19.

11 March 2006

Michelle Bachelet is inaugurated as first female president of Chile.

On January 15, 2006, Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s first woman president-elect. Bachelet came in first in the December 2005 election but did not manage to win a majority in that race, so she faced a runoff in January against her nearest opponent, billionaire businessman, Sebastian Pinera. Earlier, she was minister of defense in Chile, the first woman in Chile or all of Latin America to serve as a minister of defense.

Bachelet, a Socialist, is generally considered a center-leftist. While three other women have won presidential elections in the Americas, Bachelet was the first to win a seat without first becoming known through a husband’s prominence.

Her term in office ended in 2010 because of term limits; she was reelected in 2013 and began serving another term as president in 2014.

Michelle Bachelet was born in Santiago, Chile, on September 29, 1951. Her father’s background is French; her paternal great-grandfather emigrated to Chile in 1860. Her mother had Greek and Spanish ancestry.

Her father, Alberto Bachelet, was an air force brigadier general who died after being tortured for his opposition to Augusto Pinoche’s regime and support of Salvador Allende.

Her mother, an archaeologist, was imprisoned in a torture center with Michelle in 1975, and went into exile with her.

In her early years, before her father’s death, the family moved frequently, and even lived in the United States briefly when her father worked for the Chilean Embassy.

Michelle Bachelet studied medicine from 1970 to 1973 at the University of Chile in Santiago, but her education was interrupted by the military coup of 1973, when Salvador Allende’s regime was overthrown. Her father died in custody in March of 1974 after being tortured. The family’s funds were cut off. Michelle Bachelet had worked secretly for the Socialist Youth, and was imprisoned by the Pinochet regime in 1975 and held in the torture center at Villa Grimaldi, along with her mother.

From 1975-1979 Michelle Bachelet was in exile with her mother in Australia, where her brother had already moved, and East Germany, where she continued her education as a pediatrician.

Bachelet married Jorge Dávalos while still in Germany, and they had a son, Sebastián. He, too, was a Chilean who had fled the Pinochet regime. In 1979, the family returned to Chile. Michelle Bachelet completed her medical degree at the University of Chile, graduating in 1982.

She had a daughter, Francisca, in 1984, then separated from her husband about 1986. Chilean law made divorce difficult, so Bachelet was unable to marry the physician with whom she had her second daughter in 1990.

Bachelet later studied military strategy at Chile’s National Academy of Strategy and Policy and at the Inter-American Defense College in the United States.

Michelle Bachelet became Chile’s Minister of Health in 2000, serving under socialist President Ricarco Lagos. She then served as Minister of Defense under Lagos, the first woman in Chile or Latin America to hold such a post.

Bachelet and Lagos are part of a four-party coalition, Concertacion de Partidos por la Democracia, in power since Chile restored democracy in 1990. Concertacion has focused on both economic growth and spreading the benefits of that growth throughout segments of society.

After her first term as president, 2006 – 2010, Bachelet took a position as the Executive Director of UN Women.

19 February 2006

A methane explosion in a coal mine near Nueva Rosita in Mexico kills 65 miners.

Palau, Mexico — Fermin was a mechanic, not a coal miner, but on the morning of February 19, 2006 he had to go down into the Pasta de Conchos mine near here to fix a broken cart that couldn’t haul the coal out.

Five years later, Fermin’s remains are still more than 100 meters (109 yards) below the ground, together with dozens of miners who worked that night.

Daniel Ezquiel, Fermin’s only son, doesn’t remember his father. He was just 1 year old when “the mine swallowed the miners.”

So that he won’t forget, his mother, Maria de Lourdes, sets aside part of her widow’s pension — 2,200 pesos a month — to buy any newspaper that publishes something about the incident. She cuts articles and photos, and pastes them in an album.

That Sunday, just past 2:30 a.m., an explosion left 65 miners buried who were working inside the Pasta de Conchos mine, in the Mexican state of Coahuila, in northern Mexico.

The mine is owned by Grupo Mexico, one of the largest mining companies in the country.

Then-President Vicente Fox never visited the relatives mourning at the mine site. President Felipe Calderon has also avoided meeting with the more than 300 family members.

After five years, the relatives and about five widows continue asking for the bodies to be retrieved from the mine. Citing dangerous conditions, the company abandoned the attempts to pull them out.

Maria de Lourdes says that a year and a half ago, she stopped receiving the 420 pesos the-ex governor of Coahuila sent so that the children of the miners could continue studying.

She sells baby clothing to complement her income and keep her son in school. She doesn’t want Daniel Ezequiel to be a coal miner.

There are several versions about the cause of the incident that killed the workers. Grupo Mexico says that there was an explosion caused by a ball of gas — gas that escapes from the earth at the moment of the coal extraction — and that as a consequence, the temperature in the mine rose to more than 900 degrees Celsius.

However, according to the autopsies of the only two bodies that were pulled from the mine, their deaths were caused by asphyxiation, not burns.

Those two bodies were located in the ninth diagonal tunnel in the mine. Grupo Mexico says it went nearly 2.8 kilometers into the mine, but hadn’t found the other remains.

In February 2007, the Coahuila state government produced 65 death certificates certified by a medical examiner, even though only two bodies had been recovered.

With 63 bodies still underground, Grupo Mexico decided to suspend the rescue of the bodies in April 2007. At that time, the company argued that according to their investigations, 25% to 75% of the mine was flooded and “the water possibly is contaminated by HIV, tuberculosis, hepatitis, that could contaminate the rescuers, their families and entire populations.” These findings were given to the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization, which has advised the victims’ relatives.

Inspection records from a few months before the blast revealed that the ventilation system was failing and that there were problems with the electrical equipment. Some family members say the workers complained of a strong odor of gas.

Through a spokesman, Grupo Mexico declined to speak about the incident, citing internal policies.

Cristina Auerbach, lawyer for the victims’ relatives in the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization, said that explosions in the regions’ mines had been recorded since 1889. Even then, the only times that bodies were left inside the mine were 1889 and 2006. In the rest of the cases, the bodies were always recovered, alive or dead.

Auerbach recalled one of the biggest blasts that happened in 1969 in the town of Barroteran. In the Guadalupe mines, more than 160 people died. A little over a year later, all the bodies were recovered.

“The question isn’t whether Chile could and Mexico couldn’t, because the answer that they will give is that it was different because that mine was mineral and this one was coal, and this one had gas and that one didn’t. What you can compare is the government’s attitude,” she said. “Neither Vicente Fox nor Felipe Calderon has wanted to meet the families. Not only that, but in coal mining region, the bodies are always rescued. Only at Pasta de Conchos they are not.”

In northeast Coahuila, it’s common to find someone who has a miner in the family. Walking down the streets of towns like Nueva Rosita, Palau, San Juan Sabinas and Muzquiz, you can see trucks full of freshly mined coal at all hours.

At the end of each shift — around 3 p.m., 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. — trucks pass by with men whose faces are painted black by the carbon dust that fell on them during their 12 hours of work.

Nearly all the coal in Mexico is produced in Coahuila, according to the National Institute of Statistics, Geography and Information.

Raul Villasana, retired at age 67, also was a miner. He worked for more than 20 years in Grupo Mexico’s mines. One of his sons remains inside Pasta de Conchos. He and his wife Trinidad have traveled several times to Mexico City to participate in demonstrations in front of Grupo Mexico and the Labor Ministry to plead for the excavation of their son.

“We were recently at the Interior Ministry in November and what I asked for was my son’s rescue. I have asked for that since the beginning. Because the mine is not a cemetery, right? It’s for people to work in,” he said. “What we are asking the company and the government to do is to give the bodies to us, so we can do a holy burial and take him flowers, go see him, go visit him with his daughters, wife, sister, who also have asked for this.”

Villasana’s son left behind a son and two daughters. The widow decided to invest the 750,000 pesos that the family received from the company to set up a used clothes business that she supplies from the United States.

Maria de Lourdes, Fermin’s widow, knows the mining life well. Her father, Arsenio, was also a miner. He mined black gold from Pasta de Conchos. He retired several years before the blast.

Five years after the tragedy, she says some rescuers have dared to confess that at night they heard “noises like pickaxes striking on metal.”

Arsenio thinks those were the sounds of the last surviving miners.

“Though after all that time there is no way that they could come out alive,” he stated.

For residents like Villasana and Arsenio, Pasta de Conchos turned from a mine into a cemetery the morning of February 19. 2006.

30 December 2006

Madrid–Barajas Airport is bombed.

The 2006 Madrid–Barajas Airport bombing occurred on 30 December 2006 when a van bomb exploded in the Terminal 4 parking area at the Madrid–Barajas Airport in Spain, killing two and injuring 52. On 9 January 2007, the Basque nationalist and separatist organisation ETA claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack, one of the most powerful carried out by ETA, damaged the airport terminal and destroyed the entire parking structure. The bombing ended a nine-month ceasefire declared by the armed organisation and prompted the government to halt plans for negotiations with the organisation. Despite the attack, ETA claimed that the ceasefire was still in place and regretted the death of civilians. The organisation eventually announced the end of the ceasefire in June 2007.

Ordered and planned by then head of commandos Miguel Garikoitz Aspiazu Rubina alias Txeroki, the attack was carried out by the “commando Elurra”, whose members were arrested in early 2008 and sentenced for the attack in May 2010. Txeroki was arrested in November 2008 and is awaiting trial for the bombing.

12 July 2006

The Lebanon Israel war begins.

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The 2006 Lebanon War, also called the 2006 Israel–Hezbollah War and known in Lebanon as the July War and in Israel as the Second Lebanon War was a 34-day military conflict in Lebanon, Northern Israel and the Golan Heights. The principal parties were Hezbollah paramilitary forces and the Israel Defense Forces. The conflict started on 12 July 2006, and continued until a United Nations-brokered ceasefire went into effect in the morning on 14 August 2006, though it formally ended on 8 September 2006 when Israel lifted its naval blockade of Lebanon. Due to unprecedented Iranian military support to Hezbollah before and during the war, some consider it the first round of the Iran–Israel proxy conflict, rather than a continuation of the Arab–Israeli conflict.

The conflict was precipitated by the 2006 Hezbollah cross-border raid. On 12 July 2006, Hezbollah fighters fired rockets at Israeli border towns as a diversion for an anti-tank missile attack on two armored Humvees patrolling the Israeli side of the border fence. The ambush left three soldiers dead. Two Israeli soldiers were abducted and taken by Hezbollah to Lebanon. Five more were killed in Lebanon, in a failed rescue attempt. Hezbollah demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners held by Israel in exchange for the release of the abducted soldiers. Israel refused and responded with airstrikes and artillery fire on targets in Lebanon. Israel attacked both Hezbollah military targets and Lebanese civilian infrastructure, including Beirut’s Rafic Hariri International Airport.The IDF launched a ground invasion of Southern Lebanon. Israel also imposed an air and naval blockade. Hezbollah then launched more rockets into northern Israel and engaged the IDF in guerrilla warfare from hardened positions.